I have been wrestling with many of the topics discussed on this forum for several years. I am curious to know if there are many believers out there who embrace evolution and at the same time believe in things like a literal “Tree Of Good and Evil”?
For my take I definitively do not think of a physical tree here, and as I look at the cross as the tree of life we are offered to eat from you might get a feel for my line of thinking.
The bible was written to collect the stories told for generations so that those hearing then could get a worldview that allowed them to have a meaningful interaction with reality. They were aimed at the literal and the illiterate alike, thus painting pictures in peoples minds that allowed them to understand meaning out of concepts they could relate to. Guess they did not imagine how illiterate mankind would become as to become so materialistic in their thinking that they would lose their ability to understand poetic language and the metaphors used.
If you embrace evolution as a process regulated by a feedback loop called survival fitness and realise that this fitness is not about predator prey relationships as in killing your neighbour to protect your resources but about the ability to love thy neighbour, thus regulated by the word of God, you will also not have a problem to see the story of the fall as a poetic description of puberty, as in the rejection of the authority of the father over the self by the child, coinciding with the sexual awakening and the sudden urge to protect your private parts, that they become as a consequence of that.
It also means that with that break you become mortal as not being part of an eternal existence you come from any more, so that you will die as a logical consequence of that separation from this bond with eternity. It does not mean that you will be killed as an act of revenge by the father, a more important difference in the interpretation of this story.
Interestingly, in the German translation it is called “Baum der Erkenntnis des Guten und Bösen” which translates to the tree of realisation of good and evil, not the tree of knowledge, as that would be der “Baum des Wissens”. The thing is that God told them what was good before hand in terms of what they should and should not do, so they already had knowledge of good and evil, but they lacked the experience. They also must have known the concept of death, as otherwise there would have been no point in telling them that they would die.
I find it ironic the western interpretation of the story most think of an apple tree. which puts at the core of the story the problem of the apple and the I, the icons of one of the most successful marketing campaigns aimed at our love for the iSelf instead of the yourSelf.
It took me forty years to be moved from creationism as writ in Genesis AND the rocks and cosmos (A&E injected recently in to an old fossil strewn Earth in an old universe) to full physicalism. It took another ten years for the realisation of the implications of physicalism to fully sink in. My side bet on A&E persisted until that ten years ago and disappeared one morning in the superb museum at Angoulême. In my mid-sixties I’m still trying to come to terms with the full realisation of the fact of eternal infinity, that being shows no trace of being grounded other than by itself.
Apart from the gospel. Only most recently clarified as Love as the ground of infinite, eternal being, from the beginning. I.e. of the gospel, not creation, of which there is none of course.
Greetings! Yes, there are some who do. Here is a review of one way some believe it can work
@gbob, who wrote extensively on this subject and published a book just before passing away (his sons kindly comment once in a while), also argued for a literal Eden:
What does a “literal Eden” mean? Something I can read about in a book? Adam and Eve and Eden all (just) live in a book, which makes telling stories about them “literal” stories, something like that?
Why (a) “literal”? Because you (the 1st word in the OP) and we are “literate”; that “literacy” is common among us? Does your question not boil down to: how necessary is “biblical literalism” in one’s evangelical exegesis of the Book of Genesis? Or, in the similar interpretive approach, when can a person raised in a “sola scriptura” environment (wherein this kind of question arises to a predominant % among the people who ask it) cease from being a “literalist”, and instead turn to embrace deeper Scriptural exegesis (not to mention finally opening up Tradition, which both lives and interprets Scripture across the cultures and centuries) than what their local garden variety “creationist” Scriptural eisegesis offers?
Otherwise, does it make sense for “believers” (not just eisegetes), to “embrace electromagnetics” or “make a deal with solar radiation”? What kind of “believers” would that make them for such (voluntary, emotive) “embrace”?
In short, some new grammar may help to shake off some of the “literalistic” shackles you’re wrestling with. To that effect, I’m calling out the “privilege” itself of always talking about “literal”, which itself biases the conversation, instead of choosing a different conversation to start with. Why even ask about what’s “literal” instead of what is “historical” or “real”? The latter are much stronger & “actual” terms than rather soft and delicate “literacy” (with impoverished or underdeveloped biblical hermeneutics), aren’t they? My view in a nutshell is that “literalism” constitutes one of the greatest scourges on healthy, cooperative, fruitful science, philosophy, theology discourse & should be stamped out wherever someone notices it come back again. I hope you’ve escaped it & people who promote it around you already, @Back2Brent. And I mean “hope”, literally.
I am one of those that have that belief. When i first became a EC i struggled with this too. @SkovandOfMitaze and mister @gbob who is now with the Lord helped to shape my opinion on the matter. I highly suggest reading mister gbobs book as @Randy also said above.
Thanks for all the helpful comments and resources!
“I am one of those that have that belief.”
Perhaps there are different terms for “that belief” in your native language and tradition, Nick?
It would be a surprise if you were ever a “literalist”, given that you said you were Eastern Orthodox. Biblical literalism is rare among Eastern Orthodox. Believing in a real, historical A&E in Eden, however, is held widely beyond a specifically late-modern “evangelical” (sola scriptura) hermeneutical method, known as “biblical literalism”, even beyond only Christianity.
Iow, one sees the possibility of believing in real, historical A&E, while faithfully rejecting “biblical literalism” as based on faulty hermeneutics. Does that position not seem closer to you to what, say, the Greek Orthodox Church teaches, than the “creationist” eisegesis of the late-modern American biblical literalists?
So far the only evangelical named who seems to take this position is Joshua Swamidass (though it’s not clear that’s actually his position, as he’s quite cagey and sometimes loose with language), who is full of divisive rhetoric towards the “other” origins organisations, in an attempt to try to “unify” people around a secularising platform message. That approach is quite different than BioLogos’. Please be especially careful if you choose to go the “peaceful scientism” route: literalism + biological evolution. From my humble view as a sociologist of this conversation, that position currently looks like a mess!
Gregory i meant a historical Adam and Eve.Plus i think we have discussed this before. Not every eastern orthodox have to accept de facto the less important teachings of the church. If you do a little dig in to Byzantine history youll see that the Greek (Eastern) Orthodox churche have changed some things. The church is the most ancient with very few changes ,i agree but that doesnt mean they havent changed at all. It is the most close one to the original christians. The “closest” not the original though
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